Archive for Sarah and Sparky Marquis


Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Tasting Notes with tags , , , on March 28, 2010 by ballymote

The Wine Advocate scored the 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove 99 points and Wine Spectator bestowed it with 97. Yesterday afternoon, with my wife Kathy and our friends Jerry B. and his wife, Joann,  we popped and poured this Aussie powerhouse. They had often teased me that I had a phobia about opening my “good stuff” and that one day, when I was gone, they would be toasting me with all of the bottles that I had never opened through the years. Well, the Velvet Glove will no longer be one of those wines.

Much too intense for even the heartiest of red meats we sipped this delicious wine with some cheese and crackers prior to going to dinner. There may not be another wine anywhere that is so appropriately named. The nose virtually filled the room with a sweet bouquet of berries and lavender before it even hit the glass. The first sip grabs you like, like…ok, I’ll say it, like a velvet glove!.  We all thought it reminded us of those 2001 and 2002 Shirvingtons which were also the handiwork of Sarah and Sparky Marquis. It should be mentioned this blockbuster wine checks in at 16.5% alcohol so be prepared.

Sweet, dark berries of all types, coated in vanilla cream and spice, fill the palate  with a liquid smorgasbord of flavors. The inky purple juice entices with a rich, smooth texture that is totally in balance and devoid of tannins. The finish lingers while you swirl and again breathe in the garden of intense scents that echo from the glass.  All  too soon the last of the magic elixir flows from the bottle and a special moment comes to an end. Mollydooker makes a great variety of wines but the Velvet Glove is their crowning jewel.

It was a great start to a wonderful evening of food and wine and very fitting that when I finally did open some of my “good stuff” that it was in the company of good friends who appreciate good wine.


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , , on January 3, 2010 by ballymote

If your first two questions are “who are Sarah and Sparky?” and “why do they need defending?” then you have come to the right place.

“Sarah and Sparky” are Sarah and Sparky Marquis, a husband and wife team of winemakers in Australia. They were the driving force behind the very popular Marquis Phillips line of Aussie wines and currently they produce one of my favorite lines, Mollydooker.  They were also responsible, several years back, for making my favorite wine of all time, the 2001 Shirvington. Sarah and Sparky are no longer associated with the Marquis Phillips line of wines although they are still being made under that name by another Australian winemaker, Chris Ringland. The original collaboration on those wines was a partnership between Sarah, Sparky and an importer named Dan Phillips (thus the Marquis Phillips name) who has a company called The Grateful Palate. Troubles in wine paradise resulted in a protracted legal battle that resulted in Mr. Phillips retaining the rights to the Marquis Phillips name and he continues to produce these wines long after Sarah and Sparky have disassociated themselves from the project. Interestingly, one of the wines produced each year by the Marquis Phillips people is a Shiraz/Cab blend titled “Sarah’s Blend”. That doesn’t seem particularly fair to me but, that’s another story for another time.

The Mollydooker wines  ( Australian for “left-handed, which both Sarah and Sparky are) have gained a legion of fans here in the USA.  Sarah and Sparky produce wines at a variety of price points. In the $25.00 range they have an excellent shiraz called “The Boxer”, a merlot “The Scooter”, a cab/shiraz/merlot blend “Two Left Feet”, a cabernet “The Maitre D” and a white wine “The Violinist”. They have other wines at the $50.00 price point, two high-end offerings, a shiraz “Carnival of Love” and a shiraz/cab blend “Enchanted Path” which are in the $80 range. Their Top of the Line, pride of the family, is a rich shiraz called “The Velvet Glove” which tops in at $200.00 per bottle (I have one of these and am looking for the right time to give it a try).

Now, as to why they need defending. I like these wines, most of the time. For those who can’t find a wine they like I would ask that you invest $25.00 at your local wine outlet and pick up a bottle of the shiraz,” The Boxer”. It’s full of rich, dark fruit flavor, considerably more so than most wines. Therein lies the problem. Most wine aficionados feel that wine shouldn’t have this much flavor. I have read tons of complaints saying they can’t drink these wines, they wouldn’t drink them for free, and my favorite comment that I have seen more than once, “it’s not for drinking, it should be spread on toast.” When I went to look up something on these wines here are the first two reviews that I came across:

“This stuff was absolutely wretched. Over the top alcoholic and artificial fruit flavors that remind me of trying to wash dirt out of my mouth with Robitussin cough syrup.”

“I’m universally underwhelmed by the Marquis wines. Maybe some of you who are constantly bitching about the price of some wines can stock up.

You’re welcome to my share.”

The truth is, these wines are fruit bombs. I don’t think they go all that well with food. I do think that they are fun to drink with cheese or just sitting around before a meal. There is definitely a place for these wines and Sarah and Sparky do a fantastic job of marketing their wines. They are truly PR experts. I have never met them but have corresponded with them many times and they both seem like genuinely nice people.

Do yourself a favor. Try one of their wines. Then come back and thank me.


Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Uncategorized, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ballymote

It’s not often I have the opportunity to experience a quartet of excellent wines on the same day. This past Saturday on a weekend trip to the Big Apple, that opportunity presented itself. My fellow oenophile, Gerry B. stopped by the New York Wine Exchange and picked up a bottle of the 2005 O’Shaughnessy, Howell Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon. I had brought with me from my humble collection, a 2005 Larkmead, Oakville Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon.

We popped both of these in our room at the Marriott prior to dinner. It probably wasn’t fair to the O’Shaughnessy because I know from past experience that this is a huge wine that needs to be open a couple of hours before drinking in order for its true flavors to show. Parker had scored this wine 95 points and it has a great bouquet of licorice, dark berry fruit and tobacco. It’s smooth but quite tannic and that’s where not allowing it to breathe serves as an injustice. I’d give this one a 92 and blame the score on our lack of patience.

The Larkmead showed much better and although Parker gave it a 92, I think all of us thought it deserved higher. I’d give this one a 94. It’s not quite as full-bodied as the O’Shaughnessy but it felt more balanced and the flavors were crisp and precise with undertones of rich spices and blackberries.  We could probably have finished both bottles but it was time to get ready for dinner and more wine at Tribeca Grill.

Aside from the food, Tribeca Grill is a consistent winner of Wine Spectator’s Grand Award for their extensive 1800 selection wine list. I was thrilled to find the 2005 Lillian’s White Hawk Vineyard Syrah.  I had always wanted to try this wine having read so many rave reviews on the various wine boards. The fact that winemaker, Maggie Harrison, was the former assistant winemaker at Sine Que Non, which I have also never experienced, added to my excitement. The first taste was magical. Very seldom to you get a wine that delivers everything you are looking for in the beverage you are so passionate about. The Lillian Syrah delivers on so many different levels. It’s dark and brooding and packs so much flavor that you grasp for the right words. If Sarah and Sparky Marquis didn’t already capture the name “Velvet Glove” for their ultra-premium Mollydooker Wine, it would be perfect for the Lillian. It’s like getting hit with a velvet glove. The wine has smoothness down to a science and drinking it with my duck breast entree was like a meal designed in heaven. I’d give this one a 98 and place it #2 on my all-time list of wines. It was, as the sommelier mentioned when pouring at our table, “like drinking Sine Qua Non for one-third the price”.

Gerry had chosen the 2005 Venge Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This was an interesting wine. Parker had scored it a 92 with these remarks in December of 2007 “exhibits a deep ruby/purple color, loads of new oak, plenty of cassis fruit, high tannins and a noticeable acidity.”

I found it to be the lightest Cabernet, in color, of any I have ever had. It almost looked light for a Pinot Noir. It has a beautiful nose and is exceptionally smooth but I found the fruit flavors subtle, not bold, and almost, not just Bordeaux like, but  Burgundian. It was good, but so different that I could never pin it down and I gave it a 90. I think both wives agreed with me but Gerry loved it; even more than the Lillian Syrah. I guess that’s why they make more than one type of wine and why the true way to judge a wine is by your own palate and not by high scores or the opinion of others.

The truth is that all four of these fine wines were excellent. They each had their own story to tell and all of them added to my own personal history of wine drinking pleasure.